There has been a recent rush by local farmers to install their solar photovoltaic panels before the end of December in order to get the higher subsidy payments that are due to be reduced on January 1st. We have joined them – thanks to being prompted by Simon Wright of Lamb Farm in East Guldeford, near Rye (you can follow Simon’s topical reports on farming issues on http://www.ryenews.org.uk )
Most of the installations are being done by BeBa energy http://www.beba-energy.co.uk/. They also installed the panels on the roof of Hobbs Parker Market building in Ashford. This may have encouraged the recent enthusiasm for Solar Power amongst the local agricultural community.
Some lucky farmers are putting 50-100 Kw arrays on their barns. Simon and I were restricted to 18 Kw installations as the local electrical grid, managed by UK Power Networks, was unable to handle any more than this from our farms.
We did the maths on this project and it proved to be such a good investment that Natwest Bank were happy to lend us the money to pay for it at a very reasonable interest rate. It seems a very good idea for any business with suitable roofs to take advantage of this opportunity. BeBa tells me that very soon the UK will have 5 Gw of solar power installed and the rate of installations is growing. 5Gw is about 20% of the total average UK electricity demand and 50% of the current nuclear power output (when the sun is shining).
Recent changes to the subsidy payments has made ground mounted solar much less attractive so we may not see so many solar farms but maybe more roofs instead.
I am looking forward to charging my electric car from the new panels.